Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church - Our History and Heritage
Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church -  "Building Relationships With Christ and Each Other"
 
 
Our History and Heritage
 
Dedicated to the resilient, faithful people of Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church. May your hearts and minds be open to the working of the Holy Spirit and move into a future that is faithful, loving and bold. Go in peace. Serve the Lord. Thanks be to God.
 
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree, do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. Romans 11:17-18
 
There has been much "rooting" and "grafting" to "grow" Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church. MCLC was formally charted on June 6, 1994, upon the merger of Minnehaha Lutheran Church and Holy Communion Lutheran Church. A third church root was grafted in 2005 when Our Redeemer Lutheran Church became paired with Minnehaha Communion.
 
Minnehaha Lutheran Church was organized January 5, 1922, with a charter membership of 175.  The roots of the Congregation, however, reach back to 1909 and 1910 when two “Sunday School Stations” were established in the area by Bethel and Our Savior’s Lutheran.  These mission stations became known as Elim and Minnehaha Chapel.  In 1920, Minnehaha Chapel decided to call a pastor of their own, and a call was extended to the Reverend Tenner Thompson who began serving the area in September of that year.  Pastor Thompson was the guiding force in uniting the two chapels to form Minnehaha Lutheran Church in January of 1922, and he continued his faithful and dedicated service until his death on July 7, 1969. 
 
 
Much was accomplished during those early years. The building of the present church, with its  English Gothic design, began in 1922 and the cornerstone laid on Christmas Eve of that year.  The basement was completed by Easter 1923, and was used for worship services until Christmas 1925, when the present structure was completed.  The total cost was $55,500.  In 1927 an additional $12,500 was invested to install the stained glass windows and altar furniture.  In 1927, construction began on the parsonage, next door to the church.  It was completed in March, 1928, at a cost of $9,000, including the lot.
 
The membership of Minnehaha grew steadily during those first decades, and reached its peak in the early 1940’s with over 1400 people and a Sunday school enrollment of almost 400.  Large, active organizations made Minnehaha one of the well known centers of the community.  This increase in membership brought about plans for an addition that could better serve the needs of the congregation. After much deliberation and many changes, the educational wing was completed in 1959 at a cost of $85,000.
 
As membership fluctuated, Minnehaha remained active as a congregation concerned about the needs not only of its members, but of the community as well.  To continue the work of sharing the Gospel and reaching out to the neighborhood, Pastor Earl C. Grefsrud was called in January 1970.
 
 
 
 
 
 
To strengthen their mission, Minnehaha Lutheran and Holy Communion Lutheran merged on June 6, 1994, and Minnehaha Communion Lutheran was formed.  Pastor Stan Senness and Pastor Grefsrud served together until their retirements – Pastor Senness on June 11, 1995 and Pastor Grefsrud on June 1, 1997.  MCLC called Pastor Harry Mueller as Interim Pastor in July 1997 and as Pastor in 2000. 
 
Holy Communion Lutheran Church held its first worship service in a rented hall at 2945 41st Avenue So., on January 31, 1909. The congregation was formally chartered on March 14, 1909, let by the Reverend Luther B. Beck. Planning began immediately to build a church. Ground was broken on August 13, 1909, at 4016 E. 32nd Street. In the meantime, worship was held in a tent erected on 41st Avenue S. below 33rd Street, and on cold days in the home of a member at 3310 41st  Avenue So. The
Holy communion Circa 1909, Pastor Beck on church Steps    congregation worshipped in the new sanctuary for the first time on Christmas Day 1909.
 
The emphasis on neighborhood outreach continued with the development of such programs as Good News Bearers (now Youth on a Mission) and groups including Kinship, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Weight Watchers. 
 
 
In 2005, a unique relationship was established with Our Redeemer Lutheran, our sister church a few blocks to the west.  In December 2005, Pastors Dan and Sally Ankerfelt were called to serve both MCLC and Our Redeemer. 
  The New Our Redeemer, completed September 1968.
 
The sharing of staff and worship opportunities allowed freedom to envision new ministry in changing times and neighborhoods.  Good News Bearers evolved into Kids in Church and Community which then became Youth on a Mission.  Sunday school became an intergenerational learning time.  Our role as a teaching parish continued to grow.  New technologies such as email and web sites have broadened the way we can communicate with each other and the broader communities.  
 
Our Redeemer began as a mission church in the summer of 1913. Called Rice Lake Mission (Rice Lake is now known as Lake Hiawatha), the fledgling church first met in a tent near 3th Street and 23rd Avenue So. Our Redeemer Lutheran Church was chartered on October 14, 1914. In 1915, land for a church building was purchased at 40th Street and           The second Our Redeemer completed in 1939.
27th Avenue S. and  a basement was quiclky built. The congregation worshipped in the basement space until the superstructure was completed seven years later. The first service in the new sanctuary was Christmas Day 1922.
 
As Our Redeemer prayerfully reflected on its mission and future, the difficult decision was made to close that congregation.  In January 2008, Our Redeemer donated their building to the Oromo Congregation, and many
of the Our Redeemer members
Pastor Melkamu, Pastors' Sally and Dan Ankerfelt   joined the Minnehaha
and Bishop Johnson                                                      Communion family.
 
Today, the community that calls itself Minnehaha Communion reflects the strengths of each of our predecessors.  Whether we gather for worship, for fellowship, for education, or for (gasp!) lutefisk, we continue to give thanks to God for all of our blessings, and to in turn share these many blessings with those around us.  This may be in gathering for a meal on Wednesday evening, with a prayer shawl wrapped around the shoulders of one in turmoil, or through benevolence dollars serving those we may never meet.  As we celebrate decades of faithful leadership and grace-filled response, our prayer is that we will continue to “Build relationships with Christ and each other” for decades yet to come.
 
 
If you are interested in a copy of our history book, Roots and Grafts, please contact the church office.